Last year marked a major turning point for the cosmetic surgery industry. The media unearthed some of the most unethical promotional practices used by some less than scrupulous outfits. It is incredible to see supposedly professional and ethical surgeons selling discount vouchers for boob jobs and rhinoplasty or offering major surgical procedures as raffle prizes and even promoting overseas surgery holiday packages.
As a member of The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), I am pleased to see that our industry body has brought the unregulated cosmetic surgery market to the attention of MPs, who are currently reviewing lax regulations that have allowed such operators to expand in the UK. It will inevitably create some major changes in our business and mean that some operators will have to completely review their practices.
But this is a blessing which will benefit patients. Appropriately qualified surgeons work hard to provide a professional and ethical practice and will welcome regulation of clinics that put profit before patients. If the advertising ban does take place, this certainly won't affect my fellow peers and I for whom, most of our patients comes through recommendation.
We don't tend to openly advertise our work. As experienced surgeons, we know that the best way to market our services is through good quality work, our happy and satisfied patients and referrals. When I see a new patient and they tell me I was recommended by a member of their family or a friend, well, it doesn't get any better than that.
So for anyone considering surgery in 2012, my biggest piece of advice is to follow the four golden rules.
1) Don't rush:
Cosmetic surgery isn't something you should rush into. Make sure you're 100% positive that surgery is the answer. Don't assume surgery holds all the answers to your problems.
2) Do your homework:
Once you've made the decision to go ahead with surgery make sure you research this procedure. Beware that some of the most visible information 'advertised' on the internet is provided by highly commercial clinics who ensure that you click on their websites. These clinics may not employ the most reputable surgeons. Therefore take time to research the best surgeons by consulting credited industry bodies, such as BAAPS which is an association that develops and encourages the practice of high standards of personal, professional and ethical conduct among their members. All members of BAAPS also have their safety data audited on an annual basis.
3) Don't be afraid to ask questions:
When you've booked yourself in for a consultation with a surgeon, don't be afraid to come prepared with questions. You can even ask the surgeon to show their portfolio of patients before and after pictures. Also ask the surgeon how many of these procedures they perform.
4) Do book more than one consultation:
Try and visit more than one surgeon.You will notice the difference between a good surgeon and a great surgeon.
Don't forget with any type of surgery, there's always risks involved. Cosmetic surgery isn't any different, which is why it's so important to research the surgeon and ensure that you put yourself in the hands of the most experienced professionals available and in a hospital environment where the unexpected is absolutely expected.